Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pneumonia

So. After dealing with Scooter's stomach bug....and catching it myself...I thought Eli might have caught the stomach bug.

I was wrong.  The only people who got the stomach virus were Scooter and I. You may remember that I took Eli to doctor and that he was coughing and throwing up in the office. The next day, he was a little better...though not quite right. Sunday, was neither better nor worse, though Patrick had to go alone to light the Advent candles at church, since I am not a fan of spreading illness.

Monday, Eli was much worse. We went back to the doctor, and she was surprised at how lethargic he was and how poorly he was feeling. I'd given him acetaminophen before the appointment for fever, but it continued to rise at the doctor's office, up to 103. She wrote an order for a chest x-Ray, and sent us across the street to the hospital to have it done. On the way across the street, I got a call from the preschool saying that Scooter might not be feeling well, too. Thank heavens for Patrick's parents for going to get him for me!

I was also thankful for the days I worked with my good friends at the animal shelter...and the fact that they taught me to read chest x-Rays for cats. Pneumonia in cats and pneumonia in people shows up identically...and it was easy for me to see that Eli had a clear case of double pneumonia. Later, that night, Eli began to spike a higher fever around midnight, at 104 degrees. We called and paged the doctor on call, and worked to bring his fever down. I gave him a breathing treatment to help him breathe. He relaxed, the fever began to break, and his breathing eased. I put him to bed.

About an hour or two later, I heard him begin to whimper. I called out to see if he was okay...and he only whimpered. Upon checking him, we realized that he had thrown up, and was too tired to get up and ask for help. We cleaned him up, and I put him in our recliner to sleep, where I could keep a closer eye on him. Around 3:30 AM, he began to have some trouble breathing. It was almost time for ibuprofen and a breathing treatment, so I waited up with him and watched him carefully. When the medicine didn't seem to make a difference, I took him to the emergency room.

Because he was having so much trouble breathing due to the pneumonia, we found ourselves being transferred to the children's hospital by ambulance, where he was admitted for treatment. We were very thankful that he rebounded quickly and was released from the hospital in time for Christmas :). And Eli, at least, is still getting well quickly. We still have a couple follow up appointments to make sure the pneumonia is gone....but after being so frightened about how sick he was, it is definitely a relief to have some reassurance.

In the meantime, Scooter started coughing...and Itty Bitty started with a runny nose...and I started coughing. After yet another check at the pediatrician, Itty Bitty seems to have just a cold...while Scooter has now been diagnosed with pneumonia. A later check with my doctor revealed that I, also have a case of pneumonia.

At this point, I am glad that Eli is on the mend, and that Itty Bitty is currently in the clear. We are hoping that we will all be well - or close enough - soon.    Now, if only I can get caught back up on my never-ending housework...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Introducing...Scooter!

Well, it would appear that God has a great sense of humor. No sooner did I hit "post" on my last entry...the one where I said "it had been a while since I'd heard from the children's home"....than I got a phone call from them. It was for a 3 year old boy, part of a sibling group, who needed a place to stay immediately.  Oddly, I didn't even ask my usual questions...I don't know what got into me...but I simply said "yes."  Then, I asked if I could take care of his (younger) sister as well. Unfortunately, the sister was ill with a stomach virus and had been placed quickly so as to get her medical care.  And, later, when Scooter was on his way to our house, I was told that he had begun to vomit as well.

Lovely.

I put in for a sub for the next day, asked for registration papers at the preschool, and went home to ready the spare bed for a preschooler.  Patrick took Eli to his piano lesson (at which Eli behaved abominably) while I waited for updates and Scooter's arrival.  Around 9 that evening, the transporter and a representative from the children's home arrived with a shy, confused little boy. Then, we began to review paperwork....and saw that the recorded birthday placed his age at 2, not 3.  None of us knew if he was 3 - as reported - or if the birthdate on the paperwork was correct.  Honestly....we still aren't sure.  We are going by the paperwork birthday for school and medical appointments for now, while our foster care worker is trying to get to the bottom of the situation.  We did have an interesting night, but although Scooter was initially unhappy about going to bed, we were able to soothe him with a few stories and some comforting hugs. I was very, very happy to hear him speak...he is the first foster child out of the 4 that we have had who could put 2-4 words together.

The next morning, I dropped Eli and Itty Bitty off at preschool/daycare and took Scooter to the store for some clothing and a toy to call his own. I set up his initial medical evaluation, and let him have a quiet, easy day to begin settling. He earned his nickname the first afternoon, scooting around on every ride-on toy that we have.

Later that night, we went to enjoy watching Eli at his Christmas program for preschool. It was really cute...and, as always in a group of four year olds on stage...it was hilarious.  Scooter stood up and cheered and clapped after every single song and rectitation....and since every kid was supposed to individually recite part of "The Night Before Christmas", that was a LOT of cheering.  It was cute, though.



Unfortunately, the next evening, it became apparent that I managed to catch Scooter's stomach bug : (, and missed the rest of the week at school as a result.  Eli also managed to come down with some weird virus that has left him with a fever, body aches, and cough.  I took him to the doctor Saturday morning for this...and he began vomiting while we were there. And, since he's completely potty-trained...neither of us had a change of clothes. Needless to say, he missed his Advent reading at church this morning, and is still not feeling very well.  He may be about to get his first flu shot, as he was negative on the flu test at the doctor's office.  Hoping that he feels better tomorrow, when we go back to the doctor for a re-check...and for Itty Bitty's 6 month old vaccinations and well check.

And speaking of Itty Bitty, we have an early intervention appointment coming up this week, too.  I've been looking at him more closely since we 'failed' the initial evaluation (he still cannot play with his feet while lying on his back). While there definitely are things he doesn't do that other many 6 month old babies CAN do, I'm still not sure if anything is actually wrong...or if he's just moving to the beat of his own drum. He does seem "tight" or stiff in the shoulders/upper arms...and he doesn't usually grab for toys (he can...he just doesn't usually do it).  But...he's trying to crawl (he mostly slithers backwards and pivots), he adores bouncing, and he is definitely standing very well.  Today marks the first time that I saw him get into an "all fours" position to try to crawl, and I have been seeing him "mouth" toys.  He does have a few other milestones that are hit/miss for now...but he is progressing in all areas.  It will be interesting to see if he qualifies for services.  I'm hoping that lots of time at home during these next few weeks will help him, too, since he'll have a lot more one-on-one time. Hopefully, we'll be able to have both of his intake evaluations done over the holidays...and I'm thankful that I was able to get all but one of Scooter's follow-ups scheduled for the holiday weeks, as well.

Now, I've got to get to wrapping presents, and prepping for the holidays : )!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Advent Update

It's so nice to back and to have a little time to write this week! I'm surprised that we haven't gotten a call from our foster agency, asking us to take another child, but it's still just us + Itty Bitty.  When W left, I was so excited to get another child, to feel less sad about his leaving. After Wonder Boy left, I REALLY needed a break to get my bearings...and then we'd all gotten under the weather, and needed time to get better.  Now, I'm ready.  I think.  It's hard to really FEEL ready...but I am as close as I can get.

We made it to the Christmas party at our foster agency on Saturday, though, and it was wonderful!!  I can't thank them enough for everything...Eli had a BLAST doing art projects and meeting Santa.  If you remember, he was angry at Santa for not giving kids in orphanages presents for Christmas. And, in fact, I expected him to take one look at "Santa" and reject him as a person in costume, as he has done so many times before.  This time, though, he looked at Santa, and said to me, quietly, "Is that the REAL Santa, or a man in costume?"  I asked him, "What do YOU think, Eli?  Look at him again."  He started bouncing and got incredibly excited : ), saying "It's him!  It's really him!  Oh! Oh!  Can I go see him? Can I talk to him?!"  A few moments later, Eli went airborne as he HURLED himself at Santa.  Thankfully, everyone recovered enough that I *think* the pro photographer might have gotten some good pictures. My only pic is a little blurry, and since it shows so much of Itty Bitty's face, I cannot post it. In the meantime, Eli's heart has been a lot lighter and happier since he decided that Santa had come to the foster agency's party to make sure that the foster children got their gifts (after all, they are not in their actual homes for Christmas).

Sunday brought more interesting things to do. The children's choir at our church replaced the adult choir for the entire church service this week; truthfully, they did amazingly well. I kinda wished Eli would quit giving me a thumbs-up every 2 or 3 minutes, and I definitely wished he would quit squirreling around and trying to talk to me (in the pew) from the choir loft, but he did amazingly well remembering the words to the songs.  His friend, R, got up and sang a GORGEOUS solo - a capella - of  all 3 verses of 'Go Tell It On The Mountain'.  Later that evening, we went to the church's family Christmas celebration, but, unfortunately, Eli was WOUND UP and acted very poorly. Still, we were able to enjoy some of the festivities before it was definitely time to take Eli home for bed.  Itty Bitty, by contrast, was very relaxed and happy the entire time. I'd brought the stroller for him, but he wanted to snuggle, so I ended up carrying him most of the evening : ).

This upcoming week should be very interesting; Eli has a piano lesson (the last one before New Year's), a book club meeting (I'm thankful this is only a month-long club!), and a performance with his class at school.  Yeesh!  This is a LOT for us...we actively try NOT to be away from home during the week : ).  Did I mention that I promised Eli that I'd take him ice skating soon, too?!  This is not to mention that our social worker is probably going to want to do a home visit sometime this week...!

Still, it's nice to be winding down the semester at school and getting ready for some quality family time!  I bought fabric for Itty Bitty's stocking, and am HOPING to have time to quilt it this week...though it's looking busy...but I am determined to get it done : ).  I'll post pics when it is finished!



Friday, December 11, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up:Piano Lessons and BCW

Wow...just wow. I've been inundated with so much to do lately...and we've all been fighting illness in the last few weeks. For now, though, everyone seems to be on the mend.  The sniffles are minimal; the excitement for the coming holidays is through the roof.

This week marked the second piano lesson that Eli's had.  Official piano lessons, anyway. I'd worked with him occasionally on the piano or violin at his request...but now, I've caved and allowed Eli to start formal lessons with a family friend. Bonus: she happens to be Korean, which Eli likes.  Extra bonus: her teaching style is very Korean, which means high expectations, lots of homework, specific goals, and strict attention to detail.  While, for some kids, this teaching style would backfire, Eli needs it. Everyone's been so relaxed about Eli's learning (including me), that he doesn't take it very seriously, so he needs a little more structure. So far, almost 3 weeks in, Eli is still 'on fire' to learn and is thoroughly enjoying his lessons. And, in usual Eli style, he is learning VERY rapidly.  As my family said, he's "taking to it like a duck to water."  And, Patrick and I agree, having our four year old run up and say "Look!  Look!  I drew my own treble clef by myself!" made us so proud.  I did have to get onto him once for not taking his piano homework seriously, but he wants to learn so badly, he settled quickly.  And when I say piano homework, I definitely mean that enough was given that he has homework NIGHTLY for the week, in addition to practicing the two songs that he's learning.  And, in a contrast to American music teachers, instead of practicing for 15 minutes, he wasn't given an amount of time to practice...he was told to play one of the pieces 5 times correctly (starting completely over for errors), and the second (much easier) piece 1 time correctly.  For the most part, this actually doesn't take nearly that long...for now.  But for his age, I like this approach: playing a piece 5 times correctly is a very concrete goal...practicing for 15 minutes seems to abstract.

Eli's not done very much academically this week. We did manage to FINALLY begin Life of Fred: Dogs, which we are thoroughly enjoying.  Eli's losing interest in his 1st and 2nd grade math books, because he's mastered almost all of the material in them. The only skills in these grade levels that he still needs to work on are borrowing with subtraction (which he's almost ready for) and a deeper understanding of place value.  I will say, though, we've gone back to using the IXL website, and I let him play on the 3rd grade math activities. He taught himself to divide - by 5s, anyway; since he competently multiplies by 2s, 5s, and 10s, he could probably also figure out how to divide by 2 or 10.  Eli's not showing a ton of reading growth lately,  but he's not been practicing much, either.  Our library started a winter reading club for kids, and he joined, so at least I know he'll read a total of 4 books this month.  He's only done 1 so far, but is ready for another. The first book he read, Pepper and Poe, was absolutely adorable and is a new family favorite. While it's very simple (and has very few words to read), the story is really sweet and quite funny. It reminded me somewhat of Purina's "Dear Kitten" videos.

In other news, Itty Bitty failed a routine Early Intervention milestones check earlier this week.  For those who don't know, in my area, Early Intervention is called BCW (Babies Can't Wait). The fact that he failed is not a big deal at this point, though he will have to have a more in-depth evaluation. The area he failed was gross motor/physical. He failed for three milestones. One, though we've seen him roll over (both directions), it's been at about a month since I've seen him do it.  I honestly think that's mostly because of weight gain for the back-to-front roll....and because he strongly prefers to play on his tummy, he won't generally roll front-to-back.  Two, he doesn't get up "into a crawling position."  He is trying to move on the floor, but honestly hasn't figured it out yet. Third, he doesn't play with his feet while lying on his back.  Again, I think that's partly because of his weight...and partly because he doesn't like to lie on his back at all.  He DOES play with his feet sometimes when he's sitting up, though...but the evaluator said that this didn't count. I told her that he's pulling to stand, trying to lift a foot to step when he's standing, and that he's sitting independently, but that didn't count either.  So, we have to wait on a physical therapist to call and set up an appointment to see him. Who knows?  I could be wrong and he's simply not as flexible or as strong in some of the areas he should be.  But, as strong as he is and as mobile as he tries to be, I'm not worried at this point. He's doing very well, and making progress all across the board.  I wish he got more "floor time" at daycare, as I think this would help him, but he always seems to be in a bouncy seat, highchair, walker, swing, crib,..etc.  In the meantime, I am going to try to give him some extra 'floor time' lying down at home, so that he can work on moving about. 

Itty Bitty has had some really cute moments this week, though.  Saturday afternoon, when he woke up to see a Christmas tree in the living room, the bewilderment on his face was absolutely hysterical.  He looked from the tree to us several times with wide eyes; we could tell he had so many questions, but can't yet ask them all.  Nearly a week later, he still looks at the tree quizzically.

Last night, he surprised us a couple of times by standing on his own. He's generally loved sitting on my leg and rock back-and-forth. Suddenly, yesterday, he gave an extra lunge, and ended up standing. I held his hand for support, then realized he didn't need it. I let go (but with hands nearby, so that he wouldn't fall), and he held it for a second or two.  He's been using my shirt to pull himself to stand, but that is definitely the first time he got into the position on his own.

Finally, Wednesday night, at Eli's church choir practice, Itty Bitty surprised me again. The kids were all chatting, and a couple of the other moms and I (several with babies Itty Bitty's age) were sitting and playing with the babies. But, when the kids started singing, Itty Bitty had an immediate reaction. He froze, whipped his head around to find the sound, and struggled to turn to see the kids sing.  Each time the kids took a break, Itty Bitty would turn back and show interest in the other babies and people (including me). Each time the kids began singing, Itty Bitty was so entirely focused on the music that I was unable to get his attention or distract him.  When I tried to turn his back to them, he struggled to reorient himself so that he could see. It's the first time he's ever done anything like this before and it was really cute (albeit very surprising!). He does not do this at home, and ignores the background music at school...but we were very tickled by his behavior.